New College Exploration Options and Why You Should Do Them

Around the country, a good number of colleges and universities are not offering campus tours right now. So what does that mean for rising seniors wanting to visit colleges? Short answer is: you can’t. Perhaps you could drive there and walk around the campus with your mask on, but formal college tours are largely not being offered this year. However, colleges are doing their best to accommodate students who want to learn more about, and possibly apply to, their school.

There are two main reasons it makes sense to take advantage of these online offerings:

  1. Demonstrated Interest: If you want more in depth information about what demonstrated interest is, check out this previous blog post: Colleges will likely keep track of which students attend which online events, so be sure to officially log in, register or sign up for a newsletter.
  2. Research: The most important reason to take advantage of these offerings is to learn about the colleges. It’s very nice to be able to research schools before you apply.

So, with that being said, what is being offered:

  1. Virtual Tour: Colleges are offering an array of virtual tours, ranging from an interactive map, to a narrated video, to an actual live stream tour. This is a good way to “see” a campus when you can’t see a campus.
  2. Webinar: Webinars happen at a specific time and usually take place over Zoom. You need to officially register to reserve your spot. When you register, you will be given a link to be able to join in on that day and time. Sometimes, a recording will be offered to registrants who can’t make the live webinar. Colleges are offering webinars on an assortment of topics from :”Learn more about XYZ College” to “What are the pros and cons of Early Decision.” These are typically chalk full of good information.
  3. Information Session/ Virtual Open House: These also require registration and you will log on at a specific time to talk with admission counselors, current students, professors, or more. You typically have a chance to answer questions and respond during these. They may take place on Zoom or another platform.
  4. An App: Colleges now are offering Apps for phones whereby students can find links to webinars, videos and more to learn about their school. This is a good way to go for your top few schools.
  5. YouTube: Most colleges have YouTube pages filled with helpful videos to aid students in their college research.

The next question you may ask yourself is, “Where do I find these offerings?” First thing to note is that not all colleges are offering all of these. The colleges that are super on the ball will have their virtual exploration options right on the front page of their admissions website. Do a quick google search for “XYZ College Admissions” and the page usually pops up easily. You may have to dig a little by clicking a button on the homepage, such as: Visit Campus, Take a Tour, Virtual Offerings, etc.

Maybe a silver lining of the Coronavirus pandemic is that colleges are making more online “get to know us” offerings available to students. Students and families who may not have been able to travel to tour schools before, now can do so from the comfort of home. So, grab a snack, put on your comfy clothes, and attend a webinar for your favorite school! It’s a win-win-win!

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